Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Groklaw: the good, the bad, the ugly

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But the IBM-SCO case is not such an extreme case. It was a bunfight between two companies, and that happens all the time in the US, the most litigious country in the world. SCO did make several claims that turned out to be just that - claims - but then which company does not make them in the context of a lawsuit?

SCO's legal heroics were sponsored by several companies which wanted to impede the growth of Linux and it was not surprising that it turned out that Microsoft was leading the gang. But then Groklaw, which was often suspected of being funded by IBM, never divulged its source of funding either - no matter where the funds were coming from, any disclosure would have certainly made the website and Jones look more like an everyday campaign rather than a soul-stirring, idealistic crusade.

These days, many companies run their own blogs with a constant stream of positive messages about themselves and their products; if Jones had divulged the source of her funding - there had to be someone paying the bills as it was a full-time occupation maintaining and writing for Groklaw - then it is highly unlikely that the website would have had anything like the status it enjoyed during its tenure.

Jones chose to maintain a low profile but that is perfectly understandable and does not in any way diminish any credibility she had; she was subject to some nasty attacks by writers from the mainstream tech media in the US and thus one can understand her reluctance to come out in public and gain a profile for herself.

Much of the acceptance that Jones gained was because a great deal of the coverage of matters FOSS comes from groupies - people who exhibit uncritical acceptance of the genre and all that it involves. If is, of course, easy to argue that the attacks on FOSS justify this kind of coverage - in my book that would be tantamount to arguing that the terrorist attacks on the West justify the curtailing of fundamental freedoms.

One other negative aspect of Groklaw was the shrill, self-righteous tone adopted by Jones - the I-am-right-and-the-rest-of-the-world-is-wrong attitude, eerily similar to the Dubya school of thought where anyone who did not back his silliness was against freedom. Gloating and I-told-you-so is not the best way to publicise a cause; there are more subtle and more effective ways of doing so. Her approach often smacked of childishness.

That said, Groklaw served a purpose and has outlived its usefulness; calling time is an acknowledgement of this.

 

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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